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Life at № 42

How the aristocracy preserved their power | Chris Bryant

“Historically, the British aristocracy’s defining feature was not a noble aspiration to serve the common weal but a desperate desire for self-advancement. They stole land under the pretence of piety in the early middle ages, they seized it by conquest, they expropriated it from the monasteries and they enclosed it for their private use under the pretence of efficiency. They grasped wealth, corruptly carved out their niche at the pinnacle of society and held on to it with a vice-like grip. They endlessly reinforced their own status and enforced deference on others through ostentatiously exorbitant expenditure on palaces, clothing and jewellery. They laid down a strict set of rules for the rest of society, but lived by a different standard.

Such was their sense of entitlement that they believed – and persuaded others to believe – that a hierarchical society with them placed firmly and unassailably at the top was the natural order of things. Even to suggest otherwise, they implied, was to shake the foundations of morality.

They were shocked and angered when others sought to deprive or degrade them. They clung tenaciously to their position. They developed ever more specious arguments to defend their privileges. They eulogised themselves and built great temples to their greatness. They jealously guarded access to their hallowed halls. And when democracy finally and rudely shunted them aside, they found new means of preserving their extravagant riches without the tedium of pretending they sought the common interest. Far from dying away, they remain very much alive.”

Source: How the aristocracy preserved their power | News | The Guardian

This is, of course, true of all aristocracy – not just the British.

I have become (even more) painfully aware of the depths of these things lately. After joining Facebook, to be more precise. Leaving what people post aside for a moment, have you ever stopped to consider all of the subconscious micro-decisions that go into the judgements people make in the “friending” process? As I looked at the friend lists of people I know, I started seeing patterns. Similar clothing, similar vacation spots, similar insinuations of purchasing power. And from the pictures I selected to post, I realised I was doing exactly the same thing. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the primary function of FB (the one that’s just under the surface) is as an exercise in self-categorisation. Or the establishment of an artificial self that determines a placement in the social hierarchy.

I did stop and honestly attempt to break it down. Who did I dismiss? Why did I dismiss them? What I discovered is that my subconscious is at odds with my conscience. It makes decisions that I would consider reprehensible.

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32 comments on “How the aristocracy preserved their power | Chris Bryant

  1. Carmen
    September 7, 2017

    Kudos to you for your self-analysis, Mr. M. I must say that I (uncomfortably) agree with you. (re: Noseybook)

    Which, of course, has wider implications.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 7, 2017

      It’s interesting, isn’t it? Traditionally “going up in the world” was the best social/survival strategy for a member of our species. Going up the ladder meant living better and longer. And a good part of moving up on that ladder is convincing those around us that our “rightful” place is above others. Fascinating dynamics.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carmen
        September 7, 2017

        I really feel that we’ve (as a society) lost our ability to see what’s important in life. So often, we judge people (including ourselves) on how much money we’ve got. We have a case in point within our family. Our eldest daughter is a ‘granola’ girl. She and her husband (a marine engineer, and she’s a midwife) live very simply. They have a modest house, they grow their own food and eat what they’ve grown all winter (except for cooking supplies/grains, etc, which are all organic). (So you won’t find them at the local Superstore in February, buying strawberries, for instance) They wear second-hand clothes and try to buy second-hand goods, they’ll never own a new car; their ‘bit’ for overconsumption. Most people in the neighbourhood assume they are poor. In fact, they have no mortgage, savings, and they stick to a budget – and do everything ‘cash-only’. They just recently acquired a cell phone, which they really object to but found necessary. Both have university degrees, are bilingual, have travelled widely, and are very interesting people to converse with. Yet they are often judged and criticized because of their lifestyle — they just don’t fit in with most people’s perceptions of ‘successful’. Really makes you wonder. . .

        Liked by 5 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        September 7, 2017

        What do you think made them able/capable of living outside of the system?

        Like

      • Carmen
        September 7, 2017

        Both of them are very environmentally aware. . .they are very concerned about the environment and the effects of over-consumption. Also, our son-in-law has been all over the world and knows how millions of other people live . . . the contrast is jarring.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        September 7, 2017

        It’s very interesting. Even in the basic sense that they felt this path was an option. I always believed that as I wasn’t conventional, my only chance of surviving in this world was to “win”. Back in the day (and still in many places) being gay meant being less than – so I set out to prove that wasn’t the case for me.

        Like

  2. Carl D'Agostino
    September 7, 2017

    today’s aristocracy: megabanks and megacorps

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 7, 2017

      True, but don’t forget those aren’t god-like beings. They’re owned by many, many little shareholders like you and me 😉

      Like

  3. inspiredbythedivine1
    September 7, 2017

    My way of choosing who to “friend” on FB is simple: if you heap praise on me and all I say and do, you’re my friend. If you don’t, you’re fake news and not my friend. It works for Trump, so it should work for me, too. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Steve Ruis
    September 7, 2017

    The creation of the “divine rights of kings” was a power sharing device to include the churches in on the scam. The church had myriad tools in its aggrandizement. For one, the church convinced the nobility that the best thing to so with “second sons” is to make them clergymen. The nobles were told that this was a way to secure the inheritance of the first born son and preserve their bloodline! Of course, first sons were sent into combat regularly and a great number of them got killed, making the second son the primary heir. But, as scions of the church now, they took a vow of poverty, so guess who ended up owning the lands and wealth of that noble family? If you said “the church,” you got it in one.

    My way pf solving the Facebook dilemmas, all of them, was to quit Facebook and deleted my account. Ta da! No more quandaries, no more wasted time on frivolous things. The Gordian Knot solution lives!

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 7, 2017

      I have no plans of getting seriously involved in FB. I’m mostly using it as an observational tool to understand how people are interacting in the outside world- which is completely different from what I’ve experienced.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. theoccasionalman
    September 7, 2017

    And this doesn’t yet get into situations that I encounter on facebook, where I’m ‘Friends’ with people I barely know or don’t really like but don’t feel comfortable turning down. Or, people who were important to me once but that I no longer feel a connection to. I hate conflict so much that I have facebook friends I’ve never met simply because I don’t want to disappoint the people who request me. “You’re a transkid in Sao Paulo? You need some more affirmation in your life. *Accept*”

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 7, 2017

      Primum non nocere. That’s not a bad policy.
      As soon as my list went over 10 people, I panicked and unfriended two, lest the thing take over my life :/
      Considering two are exes, one was my Portuguese literature tutor and you and I have never met in person – it may have been an overreaction.

      Liked by 1 person

      • theoccasionalman
        September 7, 2017

        I wouldn’t be able to tell. I came out of the closet and needed to get away for a while, so I moved to the Middle East. No sense of proportion.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Scottie
    September 7, 2017

    And so it was, so it seems to be today. My question, what can we make tomorrow be. I hope a better thing, but to day I am depressed and so unsure. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 7, 2017

      But how and where? It seems to me that we’re even finding ways of turning meritocracy into aristocracy. School systems are set up as to advantage those with the most resources. And so a cycle of aristocracy is perpetuated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scottie
        September 7, 2017

        Oh the many Gods yes. I just watched a short vox video on college’s ability to take the lower spectrum and raise them up. Turns out they have mostly changed to taking the wealthy and keeping them that way. A detriment to all of us I think. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

  7. foolsmusings
    September 8, 2017

    Damn you, I’ve just posted pictures in my blog of my new kitchen backsplash project. Now I realize how selfish I’m being :p

    Liked by 2 people

  8. kjennings952
    September 8, 2017

    What is wealth? Is it monetary? Is it health? (Mental and physical) Or is it living free of ego-based constraints and choosing how to live? I want a life like Carmen’s daughter…but have “responsibility” that is duty to others, essentially the “system” reinforcing itself through me. Becoming aware of the ego traps is a first step at least, starting with small choices (like no FB).

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 8, 2017

      There was a joke around in the 90’s about a man who’s madly in lust with Claudia Schiffer and ends up on a desert island with her. After much insistence he finally convinces her to have sex with him. And for a couple of weeks he’s the happiest man on earth. But as more weeks go by he feels something’s missing. Finally he has a light-bulb moment and asks her to dress in *his* clothes. Then he goes up to her and says: “hey, man, you know who I’m having sex with? That model, Claudia Schiffer!” 😉
      Wealth is a good friend of Schrodinger’s cat. Unless it’s recognised as such, it doesn’t exist. Or does it?

      Liked by 4 people

  9. Bela Johnson
    September 8, 2017

    Another exercise in self examination is never time wasted. Money itself has no intrinsic value – no more silver or gold backed currency, far as I know. Perhaps that’s why people obsess over it – what it can purchase, how to ‘manage it,’ where we can go with it and how far … Who can we control, how can we position ourselves in society? And yes, I agree with your assessment that fb is about ‘self categorisation.’ What face do we choose to show to that world? And what does that say about us? I find if I let particular aspects of myself out of the bag on fb (as I’m much more apt to do here on WP – it’s a more genuine, artistic, widely expressive medium), nobody ‘likes’ or ‘comments.’ It’s almost like well, we’ve got you in this box (and who is this nebulous WE, as fb itself places you in the news feed, controls how quickly your post spins into oblivion – but it’s also what intrigues feed viewers), we’re going to keep you there. Bah and humbug, I’ve got very little time for fb anymore. It remains, as I say, the way to keep track of birthdays and old friends, family and acqaintances.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What bothers me the most, is the shameless display of indifference from the heights of their aristocratic uselessness, when attending events for themselves only, adulated by what they call the “masses”, while children go to school hungry, severely disabled commit suicide because their governments think that cutting expenses should start with the weak and vulnerable…

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 9, 2017

      Don’t you think that that detachment is part of the reason aristocracies continue to exist? There were politicians defending the tobacco industry for decades, and also the right to pollute. In fact the denial of climate change is simply about defending the right to pollute.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Agreed, even though I hate the Al Gore & Co climate change mafia…
        What really horrifies me is that their detachment is deliberate and calculated, fully knowing the toll it takes on the masses.
        And we’re expected to be so thankful for being waved at from the height of a luxuriously decorated balcony…
        If any of them sneezes, the press is on it, meanwhile dozens of terminally ill children will die because there aren’t enough funds to provide for their treatments…

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        September 9, 2017

        And (where self-interest is concerned) it’s much worse (and pervasive) than we even realise. In the past month parts of Asia experienced some of the most terrible floods in decades. Millions of people in India have been displaced. Guess how many appeals there were on French or British tv? Nothing.
        Now this week a hurricane hits French & British territories in the Caribbean and suddenly there are appeals for help on the 8 o’clock news in both countries. Donate now! Immediately!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. acflory
    September 10, 2017

    You are L’Étranger made good. The Outsider who learned to camoflage himself well enough to pass, and even to be successful. Power is a difficult thing to deny, and your subconscious doesn’t want to stop playing the game because it /works/. But your ‘salon’ tells a different story. Congratulations, you’re human. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 10, 2017

      That sums it up well; but in a nice, gentle way. In reality the process was/is brutal. Incredibly harsh.

      Like

      • acflory
        September 12, 2017

        Yeah. My lot was much easier than yours, but I can relate. Never forget though, you didn’t break. -hugs-

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Dr Martina Feyzrakhmanova
    September 12, 2017

    A huge amount of it is about social signalling. “What does this say about me”… I can count a handful of account that are genuine – I love these people.

    It’s also one of the reasons we like blogging. It’s much deeper. It’s not just throwaway superficial markers that signal belonging to certain tribes (I like good coffee, I don’t like racism, we should be more empathetic).

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 13, 2017

      How much of the population falls into each category? As in superficial vs. needs more depth?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dr Martina Feyzrakhmanova
        September 13, 2017

        Oh dear, I don’t know. I guess the vast majority would be superficial. In fact, the most popular social media (Facebook and Instagram) don’t really lend themselves to people being deep, publishing long-reads, etc. That’s why I miss the days of Blogger and LJ!

        Liked by 1 person

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